Tick off all 88 things to do on Brisbane’s bucket list
Do you really know Brisbane? We’ve gathered the best, most essential, must-do experiences everyone needs to have in and around the River City. From ticking off the major city attractions, to catching a gig in a historic hangar or exploring Brisbane via your stomach, this list covers off the best things to do in Brisbane.
It’s a classic, it’s free and it only takes 10 minutes. Ride the original elevator past the giant clock faces to the top of the tower.
2. Watch the sun rise over Brisbane CBD from Mt Coot-tha
Rise and shine people. Drive up to Mt Coot-tha pre-dawn to watch the sun rise behind the skyline. Take a rug, pop yourself down and wait for golden hour to arrive.
3. Visit a local craft brewery
Booze on with bonza brews from Brisbane’s best boutique breweries. Say that 10 times fast, after 10 beers. In Newstead try Green Beacon or Newstead Brewing. In Milton head to XXXX, Aether or Newstead Brewing’s newer headquarters. All In at Banyo and Ballistic Beer Co in Salisbury and West End are great, as is Bacchus Brewing in Capalaba.
Moonlight and two strips of LEDs light your journey towards 15 rusty tin shells that make up the Tangalooma Wrecks. It’s quiet and eerie until fish spot your bright lights and come leaping towards the clear Perspex vessels.
5. Catch a gig in an old WWII hangar at The Triffid
Our already excellent live music scene added another, rather large (probably peacock) feather to its hat when Powderfinger’s bassist John Collins opened The Triffid. The renovated World War II hanger has incredible sound quality, pulls killer acts and has a top beer garden.
6. Experience world-class art at QAGOMA
“Have you been to GOMA?” will be one of the top three questions any local will ask. We’re proud of our modern art gallery. It’s the largest in Australia, it just turned 10 and when you finish there pop into QAG, the Queensland Art Gallery next door.
The real question is, where to begin? Perhaps in Albert Lane with dumpling and sake shots at Harajuku Gyoza or tequila and tacos at Latin American Comuna Cantina. Then happy hour at Brew, cocktails at small bar Super Whatnot, hop to whisky house The Gresham, and finish with a boogie at Brooklyn Standard.
It’s Australia’s only beach located in the middle of a city. Drop on by, the water’s damn fine.
Have you seen the locals with the bright red shirts and big friendly smiles? Join a free tour with a volunteer Greeter and unearth knowledge for trivia night and beyond.
A feast for the senses – drop into the multicultural shipping container market to experience the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Brisbane’s much-loved Eat Street Markets.
Once you make that nerve-rattling first step over the edge, it’s easy as pie. Stop halfway and take in the view.
12. Eat breakfast in the inner-city suburbs
Brisbane is a city of breakfast lovers. Don’t get between a Brisvegan and his or her plate of perfectly poached eggs. And yes, we can eat our smashed avo and afford to buy a house* too.
13. Ride the CityCat
The Brisbane River defines the shape of our city and suburbs. One of the best ways to see Brisbane is from the water. Jump aboard and follow its curves.
Did you know that Queensland is one of only two states where you can actually hold a koala? Prep those guns for a snap with your new furry best friend.
15. Get a kangaroo selfie at Lone Pine
Lone Pine might have koala in its name, but it’s the kangaroos that really get up close and really personal. Feed them, pat them and get a selfie on the green roaming fields.
A family pack of the rocky road with handmade strawberry jelly and marshmallow is an essential.
17. Watch the State of Origin kick off at Suncorp Stadium
It’s state against state, it’s mate against mate. Watch the city turn maroon as statetreotic Queenslanders defend our reputation. #8inarow #neverforget
18. Kayak on the Brisbane River at twilight
Every Friday night Riverlife hosts Paddle & Prawns in the river water by the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Take a date, paddle out and watch the city skyscrapers spark from day to night.
Speaking of date nights (or friend dates) meet over a drink and casual meal at Proud Mary before catching a show, or treat a date to an Italian feast at Bar Alto before a late night live act.
A bamboo forest, cactus garden and fern house walk into a bar…
21. Bar hop between our rooftop bars
Our 12 rooftop bars sound like the perfect spot to down an icy drink and soak up the 283 days a year of sunshine. Find a list of Brisbane’s best rooftop bars here.
Do you even know Queensland if you haven’t stepped foot on the home ground of the Milton Mango? The XXXX Factory runs tours through the facility.
23. Climb the Story Bridge at Twilight
For two glorious hours you can take in insanely great views of Brisbane in one of only three bridge climbs in the world with Story Bridge Adventure Climb. It also has the only bridge abseiling experience in the world, so you can truly make the day an unforgettable one.
Stand knee-deep in the shallows at Moreton Island and watch as if on cue wild bottlenose dolphins swim in to pluck fresh fish from your hands.
25. Historic pub crawl through Woolloongabba
The southside is home to a few killer pubs with character. Stop for a steak at the Norman or Morrison Hotel, then head on over to the Story Bridge Hotel for afternoon beers or head into South Bank via Brisbane Brewing Co and the Ship Inn. Good times ahoy!
Try to focus on tapping the ball through the course while being distracted by city views.
Australia’s third-largest sand island, the centre of Moreton is home to "The Desert". Join a tour and roar down the giant dunes on a slippery board. Fun.
A photography hotspot, head to a small park on the cliffs at New Farm around sunset or sunrise to capture Brisbane’s city skyline poking out from behind the iconic Story Bridge.
Over six days and nights more than 2000 performers gather for a program of live music, dance, street theatre, panels, film, comedy acoustic jams, social debate and more.
Get to know what grows around Brisbane at the local weekend farmer markets. Saturday at the Brisbane Powerhouse is one of the best.
The real challenge is fitting all eight letters into the shot. Perhaps get a friend to take the photo – you’ll want to include the CBD skyline in it after all. Find the colourful sign at South Bank.
32. Catch a cricket ball at The Gabba
Well, your chances of actually catching a cherry are slim – but it’s worth a shot. Slap on some zinc, grab mates and head to The Gabba for a summer game of cricket.
33. Devour a strawberry sundae at the Ekka
It debuted at the Royal Show in 1950 and it’s been a firm favourite since. Annually Brisbane eats through 10 tonnes of strawberries, 1800 litres of cream and 18,000 litres of ice-cream at the Ekka.
34. Dine on Greek food in West End
Opa! The benefits of Greek migrants moving to West End many moons ago is still evident. Pop by The Greek Club, Little Greek Taverna or Lefkas for a cheap meal.
35. Don your best outfit for Oktoberfest
Named one of the top 10 Oktoberfest celebrations outside Germany by Lonely Planet, this is the closest you’ll get to Munich in Australia. Gather friends, dress up and clink beers. Prost!
Each September Brisbane is tickled pink for Brisbane Festival. Performing arts, live music, comedy and installations take over the city spaces.
37. See the universe at the Planetarium
Have your La La Land moment hand-in-hand while looking at the stars from the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.
38. Stake out a prime spot for Riverfire
The last night of Brisbane Festival goes off with a bang. Riverfire is Brisbane’s night of nights, second only to New Year’s Eve. Find a vantage point for the big fireworks spectacular.
Between neighbouring Winn Lane and Bakery Lane there are a bunch of petite shopfronts peddling boutique wares. Shop local and score a unique find.
40. Enjoy 3am pancakes at the Pancake Manor
You haven’t partied hard enough in Brisbane until you’ve finished off with 3am pancakes at the CBD’s 24/7 Pancake Manor. Bonus point if you get kicked out for licking syrup off someone else's plate.
41. Take a photo of The Arbour in bloom
The iconic steel structure that snakes its way through South Bank Parklands is covered in bougainvillea vines. Time it right and the whole 1km walk will be a vibrant shade of magenta.
42. Quad bike over island dunes
Honestly, it’s hard to narrow out the best activities on Moreton Island as there are so many. Quad biking over the sand dunes certainly does sit near the top of that list though.
Step into the underground and lose yourself to dance at this tucked-away CBD bar. There’s live music every night it’s open, free table pretzels and Brooklyn lager on tap.
44. Wander Teneriffe to see the Woolstores of yesteryear
What was once a suburb of wool and grain stores is now a buzzing inner-city residential area. Grab a coffee and walk between the city’s old factories by the river.
45. Drink a fine whisky at The Gresham
It didn’t win Australian Bartender Bar of the Year two years in a row (2015 + 2016) and Gourmet Traveller’s Bar of the Year 2016 for nothing. Order something special and settle into a chesterfield sofa at Australia’s best bar.
46. Catch a flick at the historic (and cheap) Balmoral Cinemas
With the cheapest entry in town and a grand old main cinema room complete with plush red velvet and hanging chandeliers, Balmoral Cinema is the place to take a date.
47. Barbecue in a park
More than a bucket list item, it is a council god-given right to barbecue meats for free in parks. Try Kangaroo Point Cliffs, New Farm Park or Orleigh Park for views.
Best wandered by foot, the two terraces of Paddington are home to seemingly endless strip of cute boutiques set in Queenslander homes along with hip cafes and an ever-increasing number of bars.
49. Find Brisbane’s secret bars
Speaking of bars, step through the wardrobe to Jack Rabbits, find the pirate-themed Mermaid Lounge above Lefty’s, The Walrus Club beneath The Regatta, The Cloakroom Bar up a fire escape and Greaser down a dank driveway next to a discount chemist.
50. Treat yo’self to the breakfast dego at 85 Miskin St
We told you Brisbane locals take breakfast very seriously. So seriously that one restaurant offers a four-course breakfast with matched drinks.
51. Eat the degustation at Urbane
This restaurant is widely acclaimed as Brisbane’s best holding three chefs hats. Sit down to the degustation and award yourself with a five or seven-course fine dining experience.
Each winter when 20,000 humpback whales migrate to the warmer waters in north Queensland, Brisbane’s Moreton Bay becomes a whale-watching paradise. Here the curious creatures can relax, slow down, have a play and interact with the locals (that’s you).
53. See the sun set over the water from Moreton Island
On the east coast, watching the sun set over the water is a dreamy ideal. Make it real by staying the night on Moreton Island and crack a beer while seeing out the day.
54. Cycle the city river loop
Loop from Kangaroo Point over the Story Bridge and down onto the City Boardwalk along the riverfront. Ride past the City Botanic Gardens and around two sides of the CBD to the Kurilpa Bridge. Roll down the matchstick bridge and peddle along the Clem Jones Promenade back to where you started. Streets Beach makes a prime spot to cool off at. A $2 CityCycle is up to this challenge.
55. Drink a fancy cocktail at Maker
Pull up a chair along the 7.5m-long oxidising brass bar and prepare your tastebuds for a new experience. Maker pushes the boundaries using local and native ingredients to make unusual combinations.
New Farm Park is a firm local favourite for lazy Saturday picnics, birthday celebrations by the river and space to kick a ball. Do as the Brisbane people do – pack a rug and bring your favourite cheese.
Fortitude Valley was Australia’s first dedicated entertainment precinct and it continues to thrive. Hide in a small cosy bar with a gin cocktail, tap your toes to live music or dance all night until your feet hurt and a 3am slice beckons.
Ah, the dreaded Kangaroo Point stairs. If you’re just there to take in the view from the top, no doubt a heavy-breathing, sweaty mop of a human will distract you at some point. Do them once, not 10 times over.
Every Wednesday, weather permitting, enthusiastic yachties escape to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for a sail around Green Island. Registrations are taken at the RQ bar at noon and sailors can join a crew for free if you’ve never done it before.
You see them around the city, rollin’ on all four wheels. Use this handy website to chase one down or find a truck meetup.
Don orange and cross the road to Suncorp Stadium where locals back our soccer team the Brisbane Roar.
Brisbane’s largest concentration of award-winning and hatted fine dining restaurants lie along the Eagle Street Pier riverfront. Try Sake, Aria, Cha Cha Char, Madame Wu, Pony, Jellyfish and more. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong.
There’s something extra-special about sitting on the leafy terrace with white table linen, high tea stands and views of the Story Bridge while historic Customs House towers over you. Celebrate something special, or just the fact that it’s Saturday.
It's quick, picturesque and has a cracking 19th hole (the bar).
Tie up your laces and run the streets and bridges of the city at one of these two annual events for fitness fanatics.
With sky-high views of the river and CBD, The Wheel of Brisbane has worked its way into the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Head along, settle in, and enjoy the ride.
67. Wander the esplanade from Wynnum to Manly
Start at Waterloo Esplanade and stroll along the bay to Manly Yacht Club. A mixture of sea breezes, seaside views and fishing lines will accompany you along the waterfront.
Greater Brisbane Region
In the cooler months, drive north from Brisbane and spot the big strawberry signs. There are a few farms in the Caboolture area that offer "pick your own".
For two weeks each year around late January or early February, field upon field of sunflowers bloom west of Brisbane. A small slice of sunshine found closest to Brisbane is near the University of Queensland Gatton Campus.
Once you’ve finished cooking up a storm, take a seat at a long table on the deck of the small Worrendo Cottage, pour yourself a vino and settle in to endless views of the Lost World Valley.
71. Chase waterfalls
Drive south-west of Brisbane to chase down incredible cascades hidden within lush rainforests.
Set off in darkness and take flight before sunrise. Pastel-coloured skies will greet the breaking day as you beat the world to wake up. Back on solid ground, enjoy a champagne breakfast.
Nine suspension bridges swing high above in the trees through ancient Gondwana rainforest. Climb ladders to the top of an old tree and pop your head out at the top above the canopy.
74. Catch a wave off North Stradbroke Island
The Straddie Surf School will help out if you need a lesson. Follow surfing with a scoop from Oceanic Gelato.
When you’ve finished leading that llama, you’ll get morning tea as a reward.
76. Hire a BBQ Boat and cruise up and down Pumicestone Passage
A crystal-clear, calm passage that’s abundant with wildlife sits between Bribie Island and the mainland.
77. Go for a helicopter pub crawl
Hop from country pub to country pub in your own private chopper with Pterodactyl Helicopters.
78. Tour local wineries
Designate a driver or jump on a tour through the Scenic Rim or Somerset Valley wine regions.
79. Visit a winery on horseback
Speaking of wine, visit Ocean View Estates via a scenic two-hour horse ride with Slickers Horse Riding. When you arrive, enjoy cheese and wine under the trees followed by lunch and dessert.
80. Trek the Northbrook Gorges in D'Aguilar National Park
There are plenty of epic trails to trek around Brisbane, so what makes this one special? Swimming through two gorges. It takes three hours return.
81. Visit a freshwater island lake
With a sandy bottom and crystal-clear blue or tea-tree stained brown water, dive into the creatively named Blue Lake or Brown Lake on North Stradbroke Island, or Blue Lagoon on Moreton Island.
A Chinese temple in the middle of Logan? It has to be seen to be believed. Stay for a tea ceremony.
83. Eat a fresh local Rock Oyster
Moreton Bay Rock Oysters grow off the southern tip at Kooringal. Brisbane’s most isolated pub, The Gutter Bar, is the freshest spot to eat them. At Amity Point on North Straddie, pick up a dozen direct from Dialba Oysters.
84. Gain speed on the V8 track
Get behind the wheel of a V8 race car and experience the thrills of picking up speed around tight corners at Queensland Raceways in Willowbank.
85. Climb to the peak of Mt Barney
It’s South East Queensland’s highest mountain at 1,359m and climbing to one of the two peaks takes eight to nine hours return.
Be a total baller and fly from Redcliffe to this coral cay for the day. It’s the only way to see the Great Barrier Reef from Brisbane in a weekend.
The internationally awarded distillery produces liqueur, vodka and schnapps using native flavours and local produce. Drop by for a bottle of the lilly pilly gin, eucalyptus gum leaf vodka or lemon myrtle liqueur.
88. Discover the mystery behind the enigmatic opal at the Brisbane Opal Museum
Explore the Opal Museum with a personal tour and find out about how opals are formed and mined. You can even pick up one of these beautiful iridescent, shiny things for yourself - my precious.